Muleriders Suffer 20-13 Defeat to Eastern New Mexico in Heritage Bowl


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CORSICANA, Texas – Southern Arkansas forced a pair of second-half fumbles against the nation’s second-best rushing offense in (RV) Eastern New Mexico, but the Muleriders would only be able to manufacture three points in the final thirty minutes of play in a 20-13 loss to the Lone Star Conference’s Greyhounds in the Third Annual Heritage Bowl from Tiger Stadium in Corsicana, Texas.

With less than 2:15 to play in the game, the Muleriders faced a 4th and Goal from the ENMU 5-yard line. An option pitch to redshirt sophomore Dennis Daniels saw the back fight for the pylon before being stopped just short of punching in a game-tying score. Southern Arkansas would get the football back with no timeouts and just 11 seconds to work with. Following a ten-yard completion to redshirt sophomore Micah Small, who kept the play alive by finding redshirt freshman Dekendrick Bender on a backwards lateral, an ensuing forward lateral eventually ended the play and the ballgame.

Scoring for Southern Arkansas came in the form of two field goals from all-region kicker Austin Wilkerson; a 29-yarder late in the second quarter and a 38-yard make ten seconds into the fourth quarter that pulled SAU to within one possession of the ENMU lead.

The Muleriders’ lone touchdown of the afternoon came just in time as SAU trailed 13-0 after the first quarter, before junior quarterback Hayden Mallory connected with redshirt senior Jaidon Parrish on a 69-yard scoring strike.

The ten points by the Muleriders in the second quarter came as a result of an offense that produced 171 of its 190 first half yards in the frame as well as eight of the team’s nine first downs. The Muleriders finished with 285 yards of total offense on 66 plays.

Mallory tossed for 266 yards on 18-of-41 passing and Daniels led the team in rushing with 33 yards on seven attempts. Small caught a team-best four passes for 70 yards. Bender finished with 113 all-purpose yards highlighted by 95 kick return yards in three attempts.

Redshirt senior Malik Preston finished with a dozen tackles, seven of which were solo stops, one pass breakup and a forced fumble. Sophomore Brock Floyd followed with nine tackles and senior Demetric Jennings added seven. Junior Demoni Boyd recorded two sacks and redshirt junior Antonio Washington recovered a fumble as did redshirt freshman Briant Parker.

SAU’s eight wins mark the first time since 1998-1999 that the Muleriders have posted consecutive seasons with at least eight victories.

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